Why Do Edibles Have A Different High?

Mankind’s Reference Guide To Understanding Edibles

To Eat Or Not To Eat – The Edibles Dilemma 

Ever notice that consuming cannabis edibles is a drastically different experience than smoking cannabis? Or maybe you are a long time cannabis smoker and are “canna-curious” about trying edibles. With the legalization of recreational cannabis in California more and more people are turning to it’s use for a variety of reasons. One thing some of these newer consumers are looking for is alternative ways to consume it.

Maybe you enjoy the calming effects of cannabis, but don’t want to smell like it at social functions. Then there’s the benefits to cannabis use in the professional realm as well. Many creative professionals utilizes various strains of cannabis to help them in their day to day work. Or you might have kids at home and you would rather not smoke around them. In that case edibles present a great alternative. The issue is though that people can have a vastly different experience consuming cannabis than they do smoking it. That is where Mankind comes in.

Mankind Dispensary’s staff is full of self-proclaimed “science nerds” and longtime cannabis professionals. When we asked them to explain for everyone why consuming edibles is so much different than smoking cannabis a couple were kind enough to kick some science your way. Here’s what the team had to say.

Smoking And THC

When you smoke marijuana, THC gets sucked into your bloodstream via the alveoli in the lungs, but  THC is an oil-soluble compound, meaning it doesn’t break down well in blood, which is mostly water. So within seconds, it looks to bind with the endocannabinoid receptors in the body, never really having a chance to be metabolized by the gastrointestinal tract. But when you ingest cannabis, your saliva immediately starts to break down that THC. Once it hits the stomach and then the liver, it becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. What is 11-hydroxy-THC? It’s one of the dozens of cannabinoids we’ve been able to study. Interestingly enough, it does not naturally exist in the cannabis plant. Rather it is formed within the human body after the ingestion of THC.

What is especially interesting about THC metabolites is that their levels in your body can be more than 10 times higher if you take cannabis in an edible form rather than through other routes. This accounts for the biggest difference between edibles and smoking. With edibles, a much larger fraction of Delta-9-THC makes it to the liver before being broken down. The liver is where it gets converted to 11-hydroxy-THC. If you smoke or vape, the conversion ratio is negligible. There really isn’t enough research available for review on 11-OH-THC, other than what amounts to scientists having injected people with Delta 9-THC and 11-OH-THC in varying levels and recording their response. What we can review says 11-OH-THC can have effects described as “psychedelic and highly intoxicating in high doses”.

Too Much Of  A Good Thing

Essentially when science references “highly intoxicating” we assume they are referencing stories of people calling an ambulance for themselves and sleeping for 14 hours. Something that occurs after eating an entire 500mg edible. Not something any experienced, wise cannabis connoisseur would recommend doing. It is important to note the actual lethal levels for cannabis, called an LD50 rating, would require a 175 pound man in good health to ingest somewhere around 53 whole grams of pure THC. (53000mgs for those who paid attention in math class.) In just about any commercially available edible if you consumed the necessary amount the sugar or salt would actually kill you first. Salt and sugar both have a lower LD50 than cannabis. (It’s possible to get decarbed wax in a high potency and consume 53 grams of it. It wouldn’t be an easy thing to accomplish however.)

Indica, Sativa, Hyrbid – What Is What?

As for edibles being considered Indica, Sativa or Hybrid…there’s some room for debate. When referring to the starting plant material you can definitely classify what the origins of the cannabinoids are. However, does that really matter when judging what the effects will be? When decarboxylation and processing the plant material into an edible, most times, a good amount of the complex terpene and cannabinoids are lost. A large portion of edible producers are using cannabis distillate as to avoid giving the edible an unpleasant “weedy” flavor. What makes the edible feel sleepy or not has more to do with your metabolism and the environment you took it in, along with the presence of compounds like CBN to help sleep along.

Eat Right, Eat Smart

There’s still so much science has to uncover in the cannabis world. Until cannabis is completely decriminalized we can’t understand every last complexity. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of smart people out there working every day to learn what we can, with years of professional experience behind them. As they say, a little knowledge can go a long way. The first piece is understanding how your body reacts to the different ways you ingest cannabis. Edibles are much different, as we can see, than inhalation. When done right it is a great way for people to partake in something that has a ton of benefits to it.

If you are unsure how much to take of an edible the smartest thing you can do is ask your bud tenders next time you are in. These are folks who live cannabis daily. They immerse themselves into understanding how to safely consume it in all of it’s forms so that you don’t end up sleeping for 14 hours or freaking out. Cannabis is being used not only for medical purposes, but also to help people unwind from long days at the office. It aids in relieving anxiety, recovering from athletic training, enhancing work productivity, and socializing. Learn what works for your needs, talk to a professional, and enjoy the lifestyle enhancing effects of cannabis. You’ll be glad you did.

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